The Conservative party has revealed the shortlist of candidates for an open primary to decide who will stand in Brighton Pavilion at the next general election.

It has named six contenders, rather than the expected three, to go forward to a public vote to pick the most popular.

They include Scott Seaman-Digby, the national Tory commercial director, and local candidate Andrew Wealls, who stood unsuccessfully in the by-election for the Goldsmid council seat in July.

Also on the list are Mary Weale and Charlotte Vere, who have both been named on the national Tory "A-list" of its strongest candidates.

Insurance broker Mrs Weale is a councillor on the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Former finance director Mrs Vere is chief executive of Big White Wall, a charity helping people with mental health problems.

The final two on the list are television producer and writer Douglas Chirnside and Anna Firth, a leading campaigner for the Open Eye Campaign for better early years education.

Carol Ramsden, chairman of the Brighton Pavilion Conservative Association, said: "They are all extremely strong and capable people. Pavilion will be very lucky to have any one of them as their candidate.

"We are looking forward to the open primary. It will be very exciting. It's the most open and transparent selection process of any party."

The Brighton Pavilion Conservative Association decided to put all six forward to the next stage after holding interviews yesterday.

The winning candidate will be picked after a public debate and poll at The Grand hotel, in King's Road, Brighton, on Wednesday, November 18, at 6.30pm.

Anyone who lives in the Brighton Pavilion constituency can attend and vote, regardless of whether they are a member of the Conservative party.

To register to attend people should call 01273 411844 or email

The successful candidate will go into what is expected to be one of the most fiercely contested seats at the next general election, due in May 2010.

The venue holds 200 people but the association said it would consider moving elsewhere if there was a large amount of interest in the poll. There are 88,000 residents in the Brighton Pavilion constituency.

It is currently held by a 5,000 vote majority by Labour's David Lepper, who will retire at the election. Nancy Platts will contest the seat for his party.

The Green Party have made Brighton Pavilion their main target nationally after successes in council elections and will stand their leader Caroline Lucas, who is already a member of the European Parliament.